Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Seven Literacy Strategies That Work!

Hoover was a troubled school, performing the lowest in the county and among the lowest in
California. Of the 2,200 students, 100% qualified for free or reduced lunch, 46% were ELL students, and 96% were members of minority groups. One consultant suggested that those students could not be expected to perform better. But the teachers thought otherwise. They formed a staff development committee and worked with colleagues at the San Diego State University. Together they developed the following seven strategies that helped bring their school's average reading level up two grade levels in three years. These strategies were developed for High Schoolers, but all could be used in upper elementary on up.

1.  Read-Alouds. Yes, even at the High School level. Read-alouds give students the chance to hear varied vocabulary, as well as a variety of different text types. It also gives students the opportunity to hear fluent reading.

2. K-W-L Charts. Teachers report that this is a great way to hook students into learning about a topic. Write out what you know, what you want to know, and at the end, what you learned. In addition to hooking them into the learning at the time, K-W-L Charts also prove to students that they have, indeed, gained something from their study.

3. Graphic Organizers. Graphic organizers help more visual students record what they are learning. Student-created graphic organizers benefit kinesthetic learners. Students at Hoover consistently reported that graphic organizers were the most helpful strategy they used.

4. Vocabulary Instruction. Across all content areas. 'Nuff said.

5. Writing to Learn. Some teachers reported success with opening a lesson with writing about the subject to focus students. Some used writing in the middle of the lesson to help students process the topic. Some used it at the of a lesson to summarize and solidify the new material.

6. Structured Note-taking. Let's face it, we aren't born knowing how to take good notes. In this school, students made a vertical line two inches in from the left side of the page. Here, they wrote topics and keywords. To the right of the line, students wrote detailed information. At the bottom of the page, they wrote a summary of the lesson. Brilliant!

7. Teaching Each Other, otherwise known as reciprocal teaching. While teachers found this the most difficult part to implement, they said it was also the most effective way to engage students with text.

Read more about this school, this study, and these strategies here.

What do you consider the most successful literacy strategies that you use?

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